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Health Ministry experts recommend scrapping Green Pass

Panel says Omicron’s high transmissibility makes certificate irrelevant, add that negative tests are now far better measure to increase safety indoors

A man displays the Green Pass on his cellphone in Jerusalem, October 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A man displays the Green Pass on his cellphone in Jerusalem, October 4, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Health Ministry advisory panel on Sunday recommended scrapping Israel’s Green Pass certificates, regulations on which are set to expire in eight days, saying the Omicron variant’s transmissibility and ability to infect vaccinated people made the pass largely irrelevant.

The health experts added that the pass can encourage a false sense of security for those using it, leading people to take fewer precautions at venues that screen for the pass and thus increasing their risk of infection.

The Green Pass is a certificate issued to people immunized against the virus over the past six months (either through vaccination or recent infection) and can also be issued on a temporary basis based on a recent negative test.

Confusingly, it was not immediately clear whether the experts were recommending simply removing entry restrictions to events that currently require a Green Pass and allowing everyone to enter — or if they were in fact calling for stricter limitations.

The panel stated that a negative test was now a far better measure against infection indoors than a vaccination certificate, and proposed demanding such tests for certain events. It also proposed maintaining the Green Pass with an added negative test as a requirement for entry into institutions with at-risk populations, such as care homes.

“Guidelines should be formulated for institutions and organizations where at-risk populations are located in order to reduce their exposure to the virus. In general, a requirement from visitors to these institutions to present a Green Pass and a negative COVID-19 test should be maintained.”

The experts also warned that the quality of care at hospitals in the coming weeks will be reduced due to an influx of infected patients, “which is expected to worsen due to medical centers’ inability to handle the large caseload.”

Health Ministry officials and ministers are expected to debate the future of the Green Pass system in the coming days.

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